Sundae Shawl

So I can finally show you the first shawl of Shawl Club Season 2 -the Sundae Shawl.

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As you know, I am pretty rubbish at coming up with names for my shawls.  This one is called the Sundae Shawl because it looks like one of those wafers that you stick in your ice cream when you are having a treat.  And it also looks great in ice-cream colours. The yarn I used here is by Fleabubs.

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It works really well with bamboo / merino mixes, although any yarn would work well with it.  Plus it is one of those patterns where it will keep on growing if you have the yarn and follow the pattern of the rows, but the examples shown are post blocking and used just 400m of yarn.

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It looks pretty great in grads too.  This one is by Hooking Marvelous and it reminds me of a sunrise or sunset.

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My next shawl will be revealed fairly soon as I did a special one-off pattern for one of the collaboration yarn boxes produced by Unbelievawool, Truly Hooked and Dye Candy.  It uses three different skeins of yarn and is a bit of a departure for me but I am quite pleased with how it has come out!

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No turning back…

So, it is really, really happening.  I will have my very first stall at Wool@J13 in May!  It is booked, and I am in the throes of organising my stock.  I will, of course, be bringing my patterns, but I am putting together a sort of pick and mix feel to me stall: pick a pattern, pick a yarn, pick some extras and have them all beautifully wrapped for you, so you have a treat for when you get to open it all again later at home.  Having helped out Sam and Sue on their stands, it seems that a lot of people like to see what is in their kit boxes before they buy them.  So I decided the easiest thing would be to let people build their own kits, and make them as special as possible.

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I have commissioned some yarns from Unbelievawool and Dye Candy, all on a psychological theme, and the testers look pretty special (the ones shown above are from Dye Candy).  I am hoping to ask some of other dyers to contribute as well, but I don’t want to get too carried away for my first show.  But I hope to be able to support some of my other favourite dyers too.

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I have some hand made stitch markers already from Tinkaboo Crafts, and I have found some amazing fabric for project bags which also keeps with the psychological theme.  All brains and neurons! I know they won’t appeal to everyone but I think the fabric looks pretty amazing.  A friend is helping me by making them this time, but I plan to make some myself in future if I can find time (time is my enemy at the moment).

So my extras will be hooks, stitch markers (I hope to get some very special ones made to go with the ones I already have), and WIP bags.  I am trying to source some shawl pins too, and keep toying with the idea of a small amount of things which feature my logo.  What do you think?  Do people like the idea of my little frazzled brain as a badge or a pin?  Let me know!

My Girl Lollipop

I’m going to introduce a new feature, entitled ‘Stashdive Sunday’, and this week I wanted to kick it off by honouring the substantial contribution that Rox Driver has made to my stash, aka Lollipop Guild Yarns.  Based in Nottinghamshire, she has produced some of my most beloved yarn pets and even inspired the creation of the Moo-Ra dress (I still have to finish writing that pattern up!). But the reason I want to honour her today is because it is her birthday, and I wanted to really embarrass her.

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So I am going to restrict myself to some featured beauties from my DK and Aran stash, all dyed by her, and I apologise that my poor lighting really doesn’t do the colours full justice.

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This next one was a custom dye and everyone who has seen the brioche it got used on comments on how fabulous the blue is.  It is multi tonal, both dark and intense and yet bright and vivid all at the same time.  No, I don’t know how that it possible either..

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The next was from one of her yarn boxes, a nod to George’s Marvellous Medicine…

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I have so many more of her yarns in my stash, and I would encourage you to watch her Etsy shop like a hawk.  She also has a pretty good blog which I would recommend just so that you can drool over her yarn boxes as she reveals them.

Thank you Rox.  And Happy Birthday!  And you are still far too young…

Shawl Club – Season 2

So I am now in full on crafting mode again after a little bit of a sabbatical.  Shawl Club Season 2 (“the sequel, just when you thought it was safe to go back into your stash…) has just launched over on the Unbelieva-wool page.  As I type, Shawl 1 is on the floor and on my mannequin, and I am pleased with the pattern as it is one of those easy to do and relatively easy to remember patterns.

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Last season I tried to vary the style and shape of the patterns so that there was something for everyone (the patterns are all available on my Ravelry store if you want to review them). It is quite a challenge to come up with a one skein shawl, especially those that will work with shorter as well as longer length skeins.  The firm favourites last time were the Thank You Shawl and the Shieldmaiden Shawl, but I also have a soft spot for the beaded arches shawlette – more of a scarf than a shawl but there is something special about that beading and it seems to be a popular shawl for gifting.

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This time I have learned a lot from what I felt worked well last time and this time I also want to keep with some easy makes with the occasional challenging element from time to time (but not too often).  I am trying to vary the shapes again, but it seems that you like it when I play with textures and lacework as much as I do, so expect me to revisit those themes again.  I also have an idea for some colour work shawls, and as ever Sam and I are keen to use as many luxury bases as we can.

I hope you enjoy Season 2, and if you haven’t tried it before consider giving it a try.  As ever, I am always here to help if you need me!

It’s showtime…

At the moment, its all about show prep.  The first show is actually the spring fair at my daughter’s school, where I am going to do a handicrafts stall. I am busy making lots of things that I think people will like, including shawls, socks, and baby things, as well as small things that I hope the children will want to buy like toys and so on.  The lady who organises the local craft group in my village has been a brilliant help and also has a small production line going of pretty sewn items and crocheted owl things.  Between us we are starting to accumulate a fair bit of stock. Pricing is going to be based on what I think the children will be able to afford as a suggested minimum donation, and I am hoping that the grown ups will be prepared to buy the more pricy items.  They aren’t pricy at all when you factor in the cost of the yarn and the time, but I know how it is and so I am just hoping that people will dig deep if something is pretty enough and is a one off. It will be interesting to see how it goes.

I have also got very excited about preparing for my first proper yarn show on my own.  I think I might have found a good one if they are prepared to let me in.  I just hope my patterns are considered good enough by the organisers.  I have some really beautiful kits planned and some of my favourite dyers have agreed to supply the yarn for them so I am just waiting for the word and then it will be all systems go.  I really enjoy the product design aspect of all this, especially the packing and presentation of it all.  I am itching to get started!

Since I last blogged I have also had a little treat trip to London to spend a voucher I was given for Loop.  Loop in London is a beautiful shop with super expensive yarns and extras.  It was such a treat to be able to splash out even though I am still on my yarn ban. I couldn’t resist this…

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The kindness of strangers

One of the best things about becoming a yarn-head is the community (or cult) you become part of. Yarn connects us all, but as I have connected with more people it is their biographies that are so interesting.  So many yarn folk are managing stressful personal situations or chronic illness. All of them have big hearts and keep an eye on others more than themselves.  They are crazy.  Many (if not most) are tattooed and / or pierced.  Every one has an eccentric side.  Every one is incredibly vulnerable.

This is probably true of everyone, but I don’t make this level of connection with other people.  Other people are more guarded or care more about maintaining a particular impression.  Yarn folk aren’t scared to be judged, it seems.  They open up, and they wrap others in love.  In my other world or work people are bruised, insecure and defensive.  They don’t let others in easily.  They are judgmental, and often a tiny bit paranoid.

You all know I get wound up by work. We all do in different ways but I don’t always manage stress in the ways that proper people who do my job are supposed to – I swear in my office, get sad, beat myself up over trivia and convince myself I shouldn’t be doing what I do.  I always assumed I was good at concealing this from others though.  Last week, however, a random yarn friend, someone who only knows me from my Facebook posts about yarn, messaged me out of the blue.  It was just a single line email to tell me something positive about how they saw me.  That was it.  Apparently I needed to know, and she wasn’t wrong.  But how she knew that in that moment I needed that little injection of happy, I just don’t know.

Today, I opened the first packages in two different advent yarn boxes I received in the post.  One I expected, the other I had no memory of ordering.  I was confused but assumed that in a moment of tiredness and weakness I must have ordered it and forgotten about it.  I hadn’t, it was an unsolicited gift from another yarn friend.

People with the highest mountains to climb and the broadest shoulders have the biggest hearts.  Thank you both.

Can’t beat a bit of brioche…

So, those of you following my exploits know that I have fallen in love with brioche knitting.  On Wednesday night I sat up late and worked away on my I-cord bind off and finally finished my briochexplosion wrap.  I loved making it, and as ever I popped a photo up on my instagram feed.  I then collapsed into bed and slept the sleep of the smug knitter who has finished a much loved WIP.

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In the morning I woke up and looked at my phone.  I have never had so many likes for one of my projects as I have had for this wrap.  It has really taken me back.  The yarns I used were by Lollipop Guild Yarns and Dye Candy, and they really complemented each other.  I wanted to go with a denim colour as my neutral tone because I wear jeans so much, and because to my eye denim goes with everything really.  Apparently other folk liked it too. A lot.

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Anyway, I got to wear it to work on Thursday, like a comfort blanket.  And like a comfort blanket it did help me through a particularly stressful day when I had to be a proper grown up and try to do things that I really didn’t want to do.  But armed with my cloak of awesomeness I found that I could do anything.  It must never leave my side!